This blog post is a call to action to all those who live in Washington state and to those who share in the preservation of our great marine environment.
The main topic is the proposed Cherry Point Coal Dock.
Two of the nations largest coal mining companies are proposing to build what would be the largest coal dock facility in North America. The facility would allow for 80 acres of coal piled 85ft high, UNCOVERED. This presents a big issue of coal dust which is toxic to the marine environment and the air quality. Coal dust has a document negative effective on marine environments. The following link will have more detail on the negative effects that can be expected if this facility is built.
Another important note about the Cherry Point site are a population of herring. The Cherry Point herring population have been in a steep decline over the years and new strategies are being developed to help increase and preserve this population. The coal dock facility could very well be the end of this keystone food chain fish for many marine animals including Chinook salmon and killer whales. For more information on Cherry Point Herring please follow the link below.
What are the concerns of those of us in the San Juan Islands? Besides the obvious of all the above, transportation of the coal is a big issue, mainly shipping traffic.
There is the possibility of an extra 200 ships a year moving in and out of the Haro Strait. The very same waters where we commonly find Southern Resident Killer Whales. The ships will be very large bulk cargo carriers. Bulk carries are less safe as they do not have double thickened hulls. Creating an increased risk of fuel and coal spills if there is an accident with one of these ships. The ship are powered by pretty nasty bunker fuel. The capacity of fuel is somewhere around 2 million gallons. The cargo itself has toxic effects on the marine environments.
The increased traffic in very narrow waterways will increase the risk of an accident. The waters of the San Juan islands are so precious and sensitive that an accident could have disastrous effects on wildlife and shorelines. Another issue are possible erosional effects the extra ships could have on the islands coastline. The last point I will hit on the bulk carrier ships are the operation methods. When they cross the ocean they are full of ballast water. This water is pumped into the ships to provide stability while crossing the ocean to retrieve cargo. The water will be from foreign locations. Ships are suppose to dump this water offshore in international waters before entering the area of the San Juan’s. But often they are given leeway due to weather and water conditions at sea and are allowed to dump this water once in the safety of the inland sea around the San Juan’s. This will lead to the introduction of new invasive species that will compete and at times out compete native species.
Lastly how is all of the coal going to make it from Montana to Washington state? They will be shipping millions of tons of coal via open top train cars across communities from Montana, Wyoming and Washington state. You can only imagine the negative health effects on those living along the railway corridor. Those with reactive airway issues (asthma) will have increase issues. People with healthy respiratory systems could see adverse effects as well.
The US has become less reliant on coal for energy, but China’s energy needs have grown exponentially. Therefore these two large coal mining companies need to find a place to sell their product. The coal is being sold to China at $3.00 per ton. But after you ship hundreds of millions of tons, there is profit. The new coal facility will mainly be automated and staffing low. Therefore job creation is really low. Basically this facility will on make money for out of state coal companies and no money will stay in the community. All of this is negative!
What can you do?
Visit http://www.powerpastcoal.org/ and click the TAKE ACTION link at the top of the page. There you will find a list of contacts per state. Write a letter today.